Sambalpur (Odisha), Aug 23 (PTI) 'Nuakhai', a major harvest festival of western Odisha, was celebrated in a low- key manner on Sunday due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation.
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik greeted people on the occasion.
People had to give 'Nuakhai Bhet' or social gathering on the occasion a miss due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Authorities of the renowned Samaleswari temple here made arrangements to live stream the rituals as people were not allowed to enter the place of worship. Similar restrictions were imposed in other temples as well.
Though the state government relaxed the weekend shutdown in Rourkela city on the occasion, it advised people to celebrate the festival indoors without congregating. Shops in the city remained closed during the day, officials said.
Farmers offered their first grains to their household deities, before distributing 'prasad' among other members of their families.
All family members eat together on the occasion and people working outside visit their homes to celebrate the festival.
'Socio-cultural aspect of the festival, however, was missing this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak,' Sambalpur- based writer Siddharth Panda said, adding many people could not visit their homes due to the pandemic.
Extending his greetings on the occasion, the Vice- President tweeted: 'Nuakhai Juhar! An ancient festival for the worship of foodgrain, #Nuakhai celebrates our farmers' hard labour and their joy of new harvest season... It reflects man's close relationship with nature. May this festival bring peace, prosperity and happiness in everyone's life.' Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the nation is fed due to the farmers' efforts.
'The special occasion of Nuakhai is about celebrating the hard work of our farmers. It is due to their efforts that our nation is fed. May this auspicious day bring prosperity and good health for everyone. Nuakhai Juhar!' he tweeted.
Wishing the farmers happiness and prosperity, Governor Ganeshi Lal gave a call for transforming Odisha into a leading state in the agriculture sector.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the festival is celebrated with new hopes and new rice. 'Wish you joy and prosperity on this occasion. Nuakhai Juhar to all the brothers and sisters of western Odisha,' he said.
Union Petroleum and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Minister of State for MSME Pratap Sarangi also greeted people on the occasion. PTI COR SKN ACD ACD